Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Richard Hawley's family tree

Just came across this 'rock' family tree on Richard Hawley's site. It's had me occupied for the past hour just tracing the lines back and forward between the various groups. I must read my liner notes more!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Earl Bishop

When I was back home at Easter I picked up a copy of Stephen Price's book The Earl Bishop. The book is a biography of Bishop Hervey, the man who built the famous Mussenden Temple, one of the worlds most famous follies. As I'm from that neck of the woods it was nice to finally come across a book that told the story of the place and of the man who made it.
As a bit of a design challenge I decide to re-design the cover. I didn't have a design brief but as a rule I used all the elements that were on the existing cover and a turn around time of one day. The original cover looks like this, an uncharacteristic sunny day with a blue sky showing off the famous follie with a pillared wall echoing the monuments classic architecture which acts as a holding area for the books title and the authors name.
I started by researching architectural decoration of the period and mixed this research with the Antiqua series of classic texts. These are a real design treat and totally of their time. They were produced from the early 1900's in France and feature a refined yet restricted colour palette and a tidy visual framing which draws inspiration from classical Greek architecture.
The next step was to incorporate some of the actual architecture from Mussenden and start to work  these into the cover. One of the most famous parts of the site where the Bishop's stately home once stood is the Lion's Gate,(even though the two stone cat sculptures which the gate takes its name from are actually Ocelots). I drew a number of stylised sketches of the sculptures and continued to carry out a pencil sketch taken from a photo of the Temple itself. I inked these out, scanned them in and then played about with them in Illustrator, where I started creating the frame.

Like the Antiqua series I decided to stay with a two colour scheme. I chose blue and green simply because of the geography of the area and the relationship between the land and the sea. In case you have never been the Temple is right on the edge of a cliff looking out over sea, in fact the inscription that circles the temple it's self reads "Suave mari magno, turbantibus aequora ventis, E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem" which translates roughly as "Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore, The rolling ship, and hear the tempest roar." and probably not "Agreeable husband very turbantibus the waters to toss in the air, out of earth large the second specter to sink" which I got the first time I fed the quote through an online Latin translator!
For the text I used Gill sans in caps for the titles and Perpetua Regular for the quotes and book blurb. I liked the balance between these two typefaces, the geometry of Gill sat well with the frame work while Perpetua Regular gave a classic book feel. One of the only deviations I made from my original brief was that I didn't use an actual portrait of the Bishop instead to fit with the graphic nature of the frame I decide to use a silhouette of the Bishop. The silhouette originated in the 18th century, so it felt apt that it could be included. While I was researching this I found out an interesting little fact about where the word silhouette comes from, if your interested click here!
Anyway the final cover back and front turned out like this:
It's by no means a final finished piece of design more a play around with genres, type and applying these to the elements of a pre-existing design. If any thing it has also been a bit of light design relief and fun to boot!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Friday, 17 June 2011

Nobrow niceness

Monsieur le facteur has just passed by my letterbox and left me a beautiful bundle of goodies from Nobrow including this beautiful print by illustrator Robert Hunter. I also got a copy of his latest illustrated story called The New Ghost. The smell of ink filled my nose when I opened the package and I was transported back to the print rooms at CSM.
The print comes from an exhibition called Murmuring Landscapes and is simply one of the nicest pieces of print that  I own!

A selection of spreads from The New Ghost © Robert Hunter
The current exhibition at the Nobrow Gallery looks equally promising, it is by Stuart Kolakovic and is called Under The Damp Earth, but hurry it's only on till the 23 June, you can find out more at the Nobrow website . Take some time to browse through their shop as they have some excellent prints and publications.

Friday Photo

Grenoble, France 2007

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Music Matters

I just came across this series of animated videos that were specially commissioned by EMI to illustrate why music matters. I know growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1980's music really did matter to me, it was bith a means of escape and a point of contact. If you want to watch some more on Dylan, Bernard Butler or The Jam then pop over to here.

In the meantime I'm off to put "Piece of Mind" on again, it's been a while and that Tom Judd video took me back to being 14 again, now where did I put my air guitar?!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gill's brother

OK I'm in danger of turning this blog into an arts listing but here are another couple of exhibitions that if I had the chance I would love to go to. The first is on Eric Gills' brother, Macdonald 'Max' Gill. Now I know it is horrible to introduce someone through the life of someone else but to be honest Eric Gills figure loomed so large that I had no idea that he had a brother, let alone one who worked in a similar field and to an equally high level.
Macdonald Gill was well known and respected in his day and was reputed for his highly detailed pictorial maps which all have a strong sense of Englishness about them which reflect their time and, like his brothers work, a certain sense of national identity, just look at the map above which places Great Britain at the heart of the world, it reminds me of medieval maps of the known world which did exactly the same thing with Jerusalem!

Detail from the Wonderground Map of Londontown

What looks like a highlight of the exhibition will be Macdonald Gills' Wonderground Map of Londontown. This was printed in 1914 for Westminster Press and shows an intricate and beautiful look at London and its Underground stations. The illustration style, colours and lettering evoke an almost Arts and Crafts take on London. The original was printed as 16 sheets (roughly A4) and sold in it's thousands for six shillings, I hope they do a modern reprint as I don't think I could track down never mind buy an original!

The exhibition is in Brighton at the University of Brighton and runs from 22 July - 29 August, for more information click here. There is also a fascinating blog on the restoration of Macdonald Gills' work by Sirpa Kutilainen.
To continue the Gill trip then pop into The British Museum to see Eric Gill; Public and Private Art. This exhibition looks at pieces of art created by Gill for Public commissions and for his own private pleasure. As the museum says itself 'The exhibition features work by Gill intended for both public use and private delight, including stamp designs for the Post Office, coin designs for the Royal Mint, drawings for the Stations of the Cross, and his own engravings and publications on religion, politics and art. The centrepiece of the display is his famous sculpture Divine Lovers, on loan from Ditchling Museum in East Sussex. The display also examines Gill’s work on the British Museum building itself, including the war memorial at the main entrance.' The exhibition runs until 9 August and is FREE!

Images from top:
Self-portrait medal depicting Eric Gill. Engraved by George Friend, about 1933. © reserved.
Proof for a one shilling coin by Eric Gill, 1925.© The Royal Mint.
Air Raid Precaution Badge, Eric Gill, 1939.© The Trustees of the British Museum.
And just for good measure  here's a reminder of Gills most famous creation  Gill Sans, originally created for a book shop in Bristol and then developed as a full typeface for LNER rail travel posters.

Friday, 10 June 2011

1000 Paper Cranes-Last day to donate

Regular readers to this blog will be well aware of my friend Miho's mammoth challenge to fold a 1000 paper cranes to help raise awareness and money for the Red Cross Japan Tsunami appeal.
They will also be aware that she has passed her original target and has (to date) folded 1408 paper cranes.
Well today is the last day of Mihos paper crane challenge and it is the last day that you can donate to her fund so please, please, please take a little time out and donate what you can to a great effort for a great cause.
You can find her donation page here , and as a well known supermarket chain like to remind us "every little helps!"

Friday Photo

From the series When the clouds come down, French Alps, Summer 2007

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A two pipe problem!

A strange convergence of elements have been working on me recently. When I was back in Ireland at the weekend I caught up with the BBC modern re-look at Sherlock Holmes. I loved the way they tackled his love of pondering over the clues of a crime by sucking on a pipe full of tobacco by substituting it with nicotine patches! A 'two pipe problem' eloquently became a 'two patch problem'. Later that weekend I stumbled across an article in my daily newspaper outlining plans by the Australian government to render cigarette packets olive-green, supposedly because it's a dull, unappealing colour that will put off potential smokers. This was in response to recommendations by The World Health Organisation, in its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, where it advises authorities to "consider adopting measures to restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information". After I read the piece I was left wondering, would this work? Would it reduce the number of people smoking?
I personally haven't had a cigarette for 7 years but I did smoke for a good few years before that and during that time I was never really aware of the packaging having an impact on my choice of cigarette,  I do how ever remember the fantastic press ads  on the back of the Sunday supplements for Benson & Hedges (carried out by CDP) and Silk Cut (carried out by Alexandra Taylor while at Saatchi &Saatchi).

These ads were in response to stricter government legislation that appeared in the 1970's restricting how the tobacco industry could advertise their products. No more models with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths or suggested hints of sex appeal as before so a new approach had to be found and this new approach to my mind made smoking more intriguing and attractive than any photo of a cigarette could!
A press ad for cigarettes pre-legislation

At the time I had no idea about government legislation so these images worked almost like puzzles making me stare at them in an attempt to try and figure out what was going on! Now as an adult and as a designer I can see that this was the result of a more limited brief. Once a tried and tested route has been closed off it makes the agency to  have to think a little more laterally and the client to be a little more adventurous in their marketing strategy.

I know similar plans to limit tobacco packaging are a foot in the UK with "plain generic packaging" being mooted, but again with a limited brief and a good design studio I think that this could see an increase in smoking figures and almost as if to prove my point take a look at the packaging solution created by Build.
Build were briefed by Icon to work within the proposed government guidelines and to come up with a packaging solution, these were the results;
Build's approach was to strip away all extraneous information and to reduce the packaging to the bare minimum required to convey the information. All the text is set in OCR-B and  brings to the fore the stuff that is usually hid in 5pt on the back such as the ingredients. If you want to read more visit their excellent blog here.

Personally I think these designs look a lot better and a lot more considered than the packs that grace tobacconists shelves today. They would probably appeal more to a youth market and increase smoking rather than make it appear unappealing.  So even when the Australian government pass their new law limiting tobacco packaging then I'm sure a clever agency will work with in their brief and find a creative way to make them look better!  This of course raises the age old question of design ethics, but that's another post!
Maybe to make things more challenging the Government should also stipulated in the legislation that all text has to be set in 20pt Comic Sans and that the packaging can only be laid out in Microsoft Word! We will see, as Sherlock himself would have said "The game is a foot!"

Friday, 3 June 2011

Thursday, 2 June 2011

F&M, a little animated

Just got this from Ben at AC, it's a small flash animation by Luke Twyman bringing a bit of life to my Fairy Tales and Monsters illustration to promote the festival. This will be playing on VDU screens at Kings Place this week. iAS I have said before if you have the chance to go, GO, the list of events and activities seem to be getting bigger and better by the day, in fact we are just planning some projections at the moment too! For more info on the latest additions to the programme click here.

Chris Haughton

A while back I came across A Bit Lost, the first illustrated book by Irish illustrator and author Chris Haughton. As well as being a talented illustrator, (A Bit Lost has been hoovering up awards all over the world since it's release!) but he also seems to be a designer with a big social consience.
He has just finished a series of short animations for The Law Centre in the UK. They relate peoples stories and how they benefited from The Law Centre. The films are charming and engaging while keeping you focused on the narrative, something which these kind of films sometimes forget to do. This isn't the first time that Chris has dabbled in animation he has already created similar shorts for Fair Trade just pop over to his vimeo page to see more and to hear him talk about his work.

The Law Centres: Maureen's Story from chris haughton on Vimeo.

And if your reading this Chris,  my daughter's automatic response to seeing a picture of an owl is to say "Uh ohh!". The power of words and pictures!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Kai and Sunny at Stolen Space Gallery

Kai and Sunny's work has appeared on everything from Adobe's CS4 to ads for Cadbury's chocolate and never mind the wealth of book covers including the award winning  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchel.

This print was part of the collective show Never Judge?, held last December again at the Stolen Space Gallery
If you are in London between the 3-26 June then you will have a chance to see their latest gallery show at the Stolen Space Gallery in Brick Lane. It's called The Flower Show and features a series of large two colour hand screened prints, which look beautiful. If  like me you won't have the chance to pop down then there is always the  limited edition box set of prints with a short story by the a fore mentioned David Mitchel but judging by the photos it looks like it could cost a good few pennies!